I once asked my grandmother whether she ever participated in a sit-in demonstration during the civil rights movement.
"I wasn't going nowhere to sit my behind down at some counter and get thrown in jail," she said. "Besides, if them folks didn't want my good, hard-earned money, then I didn't want no parts of them anyway."
It's not that my grandmother didn't support the movement. She certainly prayed for the souls who put their lives on the line for her civil rights.
But Big Mama was just too proud to beg and plead people to take her money.
I think I'm coming around to my grandmother's way of thinking when it comes to the never-ending whining we do in this county about the lack of upscale retailing.
For example, look at some of the worries people have about the proposed Bowie New Town Center, a $90 million open-air shopping center planned for the intersection of Route 197 and Northview Drive in Bowie.
The developers have signed Sears and Hecht's as anchors for the 580,000-square-foot project. But last week at a planning board meeting, residents complained that the mall still hadn't landed an upscale retailer such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's or Lord & Taylor.
It's not as if the developer, the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, hasn't tried, according to the attorney for the mall project.
"We've gone after the absolute best stores that we can get," said Bill Shipp, a local attorney representing Simon. "There is no incentive to go after low-end stores. This is a major investment for us in Prince George's County."
Shipp said they've contacted every upscale retailer out there. But still, the retailers snub us in Prince George's County, ticking off a litany of reasons why we ain't good enough for them.
So Simon is making do with the retailers who are interested.
"They've actually turned away a number of inquiries they felt were not up to the level of stores they want," Shipp said. "They are going for a mix that is high-quality retail or general retail and fashion."
So far, the developer has said it has letters of intent from Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Zany Brainy. Simon also is negotiating with retailers Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, the Gap and Gap Kids.
Personally, I say we stop dissing Sears and Hecht's (well, not counting the one at Landover Mall). These retailers have made a commitment. They want our money.
For example, Hecht's promises to stock its new Bowie store with $15 million worth of merchandise, including designer lines and their best accessories and domestic products.
Truth be told, most of us in the upscale part of town spend most of our dollars at not-so-fancy stores anyway. At least I do.
When I needed a leotard for my daughter's gymnastics class, I headed straight for Wal-Mart. Baby needs a new pair of shoes, I hop right over to Target in Largo. I get my pantyhose at Kohl's. I bought my husband's Father's Day gift at Burlington's in Greenbelt.
Even if a Nordstrom or Lord & Taylor were nearby, I wouldn't go there for stuff like that. It's true that when I need a good suit for work or a nice pair of shoes, I head to a Lord & Taylor. But I can live without them.
"I think we would all love to have the best mix of retailers we can have, but most people spend most of their shopping time at not-so-expensive stores anyway," said Jim Cronk, director of planning and economic development for Bowie. "Look at Annapolis mall eight years ago. It didn't have anything better than what we are talking about for the Bowie town center."
Since moving to this county nearly six years ago, all I've done and all I've heard from the politicians and community leaders is complaints about the lack of upscale retailers.
Baltimore developer Cordish Co. wants to knock down US Airways Arena and build an entertainment and retail center and anchor it with upscale retailers such as Macy's. Bethesda-based Clark Realty Co. and Petrie Deirman Kughn of McLean hope to land upscale retailers for a shopping center adjacent to the Greenbelt Metro station.
They're fighting the good fight.
"I do still believe Prince George's County as a whole is an untapped market for a variety of stores," Cronk said. "There is money to be made. Prince George's has a lot of income, and it's not just in Bowie. Those who eventually come here will prove to others that they should have been here before."
But if we build the centers and the upscalers don't come--forget them. We've got bigger problems to tackle, like improving our school system.
Frankly, I'm tired of begging. This moaning and groaning we do about the lack of upscale retailing is getting old. If Nordstrom (which ironically has a distribution center in the county) can't see fit to set up shop here, then I don't want them anyway.
As my grandmother would say: "If folks don't want to be bothered with you, then don't bother messin' with them."
Talkin' Money appears every third Wednesday of the month in the Prince George's Extra. If you have comments or column ideas, send me a letter or e-mail. You can write to me in c/o Talkin' Money 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAPTION: The proposed open-air Bowie New Town Center would be at the intersection of Route 197 and Northview Drive. Developers have signed Sears and Hecht's as anchors for the project.